Extreme adventure: diving the cenotes

The word derives from the Mayan cenotedzonot, deep meaning. The Yucatan peninsula is formed by a limestone subsoil, highly permeable material. Rain water is filtered and dissolves the porous rock to form a complete and intricate network of caves and underground rivers. Cenotes are formed when the effect of erosion, the roof of one of these caves collapses, revealing a small mirror freshwater. In its subsequent evolution, Some cenotes are dried and filtered water when not flooded as stalactites and stalagmites that grow in ceiling and floor. These limestone columns can reach 1 meter diameter and 7 or 8 in length. Water so clear it could easily be mistaken for air, to the atonishmentof the divers.

The Maya used the cenotes as a primary source of water and turned them into scenaries where they performed rituals of rain, life, death, rebirth and fertility. The cenote was a place of worship since people believed that the gods of water lived there, guarding the precious treasure of life. In the bottom, precious metals, pottery and human remains offered in times of drought, thir sacrifice being a plea for the coveted rain.

They are easy to find. Some are open in the form of a lake or pool; other cenotes, are half hidden in the caverns; still other cenotes are completely enclosed except for the sprinkling of sunlight through the cracks above; and some are only accessible by following underground passages.


very close to the town of Tulum (famous for its Mayan ruins by the sea), is on one side of the road, Access to Gran Cenote. It appears in a dense green area and a depressed area six or seven feet below ground, partly covered by a roof of underground limestone, where the cave opens. Water, but sweet, is deep blue. Here you can see the stalactites down of enormous dimensions. This cenote, has a huge cavity some 50 meters in diameter and 12 deep, which hang stalactites of all parts. Multiple beams of light from the ceiling of the cave fill this magical scene.


It is the world’s deepest cavity with 116 meters in diameter and 335 meters deep. under the calm waters, there is a natural tunnel of 180 meters which communicates with the source of the river. To further nourish the legend and mystery, Sheck Exley, the American pioneer of cave diving with the history of over 4,000 behind him, went in and died in April 1994 when he descended to a depth of 276 meters, for unknown reasons.


Located on private property near the coast and surrounded by lush greenery, about this cenote 200 meters in diameter and 6 soil, is directly connected to the sea. Just, to a depth of about 4 meters, a cave opens wide 50 feet long. Enter the water and through the fusion of fresh water with salt, is amazing. This phenomenon is referred to ashaloclina. The gallery on the ground sinks to below sea level, so the sea water seeps into the cave. As the heavier salt water is below the layer of fresh water contained therein forming halocline. The buoyancy changes abruptly and we must be prepared to correct.

The Ponderosa and Grand Cenote respect the definition of cavern diving in the National Speleological Society: No decompression diving, maximum depth 21 metros, unrestricted passage, output is always visible, Maximum penetration 50 metrosmetersect the rule of thirds in the air consumption (1/3 to enter, 1/3 to exit and 1/3 backup).

Besides diving and snorkelling, theres also rappelling, and swimming to enjoy, while you take in the beauty and mystery which has taken nature tens of millions of years to shape.

From hotel BlueBay Grand Esmeralda daily excursions depart to travel the route of the cenotes.

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  1. Thursday September 19th, 2013 at 10:31 PM — Reply

    Las fotos son sencillamente impresionantes

    • Tuesday October 1st, 2013 at 01:11 PM — Reply

      Muchas gracias por tus amables comentarios Julia! Nos complace saber que te gustan las fotos que hemos publicado, y te invitamos a enviarnos tus imágenes para incluirlas en futuros posts acerca del buceo y el mundo marino.
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      Muchas gracias por tu atención!
      Equipo BlueBay

  2. eduardo perez
    Tuesday September 6th, 2016 at 05:32 PM — Reply

    Soy una persona certificada y me gustaria tener la expereiencia de bucear en cenotes , soy de la ciudad de mexico y estaré en playa del carmen del 14 al 19 de septiembre, podrian mandarme más informacion. gracias

    • Thursday September 8th, 2016 at 12:28 PM — Reply

      Hola Eduardo, para eso tendrás que ponerte en contacto directamente con las empresas que organizan estos tours ya que nosotros desde el hotel no podemos detallarte datos específicos. Gracias

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